Houseboating on Ashtamudi Lake, Kerala backwaters

When:  November 2015       Weather : hot   28C

Nikon P900       Leica M240/35mm summilux/21mm F3.4

With a couple of days to spare, I decided to do the touristy thing and take a houseboat to the gateway of the Kerala backwaters at Kollom.  Aleppi further north is the more favoured houseboating locale with a few thousand boats compared to the 20 or so in Kollom but coming from the Kovalam area with limited time, Kollom and the Ashmatudi Lake was a good alternative.  Ashmatudi is one of the largest lakes in Kerala and as we took the boat from 4pm for 24 hours, it meant we could cruise way up to Munroe Island on the Kallada River….

L1004384Our houseboat for 24 hours…moored in Kollam..with 2 airconditioned rooms, an open lounge where all meals were served…

L1004383wicker windows

DSCN2411the waterway leading to the  bridge and the main Ashtamudi lake beyond..

DSCN2435other houseboats on the lake

L1004405river scene

DSCN2567setting sun

L1004530sunset on the Ravij Hotel…

L1004532evening on lake Ashtamudi

L1004440another evening scene

We moored for the evening opposite the Ravij Hotel and is usual for me, I awoke with the dawn and went for a walk on the shore of Kureepuzha….exploring new and unfamiliar ground is something I like to do because I never know what I will find….although really looking for birds, I sometimes stumble across other interesting things…

L1004549where we moored for the night

L1004551sunrise over the Ravij

L1004563When wandering, I will often walk down tracks like this looking for birds etc….this morning was pretty thin on birds in the location but when I rounded the corner….

L1004564I caught a glimpse of an interesting building through the trees

L1004577Beyond the gate was an old building which had interesting architectural details…

L1004578The 1087 does not refer to the year 1087 but in the Malayalam calendar is more than 100 years old…the roof has an upturned corner ….almost Chinese like!

L1004585A kind caretaker let me in to take a look and there was a very beautiful statue in the courtyard welcoming visitors…unfortunately the flute had been long lost..

L1004599the grounds were bordered by walls and arches like this….beyond was the lake where we would be cruising

L1004601beautiful blue peacock detailing..faded but still eye catching


L1004603the back view of the building…I was told it was a nobleman’s palace once upon a time…but had sadly been left derelict for a long time

L1004613-2wrought iron detail on balcony

L1004610-2another view of statue

L1004611statue facing the main entrance. Dilapidated old buildings always have an air of sadness and what might have been….and this old palace certainly made my walk more interesting…

L1004558-2the sun had risen by now and after a sumptuous breakfast of masala omelette we were on our way..

20151129_085135masala omelette for brekky

DSCN2930after breakfast, we started cruising into the main Ashtamudi Lake heading towards Munroe Island and the Kallada River….

DSCN2802the most interesting part of this traverse is the presence of the scores, of Chinese fishing nets..they are used at nights and the central light in the middle of the contraption attracts the fish…

DSCN2966prime position..greater egret

DSCN2904on the lake were numerous terns….here neatly lined up on the fishing rig

DSCN2859tern in flight

DSCN2756colorful fishing vessels…

DSCN2762the heron posed

DSCN2951as did the cormorant

DSCN2440but the most memorable sightings of this trip was the sheer number of beautiful Brahminy Kites; we see them reasonably commonly in Singapore, but here in Ashtamudi, there were literally hundreds of them…often soaring in groups of 20 or more birds..

DSCN3089magnificently orangy brown from above with s snow white head…

DSCN2997and very beautiful from below too..

DSCN3124black streaks on chest make it even more striking


DSCN3019and from the wide expanse of the lake, we eventually approached Munroe Island and the Kellada River, a much narrower and very scenic stretch..

DSCN3097dominated by coconut trees

DSCN2954an occasional tree house

DSCN3071low lying coconut trees

DSCN3104life on the river

DSCN2974and of course the ubiquitous Brahminy Kites….

DSCN2960in almost every coconut tree….I exaggerate a bit but you get the point…

DSCN3197a chestnut headed bee eater

DSCN3209smooth river surface

DSCN3201even the cows enjoyed their bath in the river…

L1004704we then stopped off by the side of the Kallada River and our steward brought us on shore to try and buy some fresh prawns and crabs for lunch…

L1004708the flowers were an unusual hibiscus

L1004713and we duly found our crabs and prawns!…fresh from the morning’s catch together with a plate of big fresh prawns, it only came up to US$20!

L1004729Next to our moorings, the coconut trees were prominent with cut outs as steps to climb the tree..

L1004787-2we travelled a very long way up the river…..

L1004777incredibly tranquil and still waters…

We finally turned back and moored somewhere for lunch…20151129_135204fantastic fresh prawns crabs etc…great lunch!  DSCN3217but just before I could tuck in, I caught a glimpse of blue in tree right next to our boat!


DSCN3225it was a magnificent white throated kingfisher perched on a branch just next to the boat….

DSCN3236He turned to look at us…

DSCN3234the light was on him

DSCN3233here, we can see the nictitating membrane over his cornea…

DSCN3305-2and he finally went full frontal with us to show off his white throat and brown coat..what a treat to be able to shoot this beauty from close up!


L1004705Interesting roof construction….as we started on our way home

DSCN3326another couple of interesting shots as we headed back to shore…a juvenile brahminy kite without the white head…

DSCN3332and another view of the juvenile

DSCN3410a black kite appeared..

DSCN3347and finally a gull billed tern

DSCN3372gull billed tern

L1004723Cruising this part of the Kerala backwaters was fascinating and the houseboat and crew lived up to everything we had hoped for…a wonderfully different trip and recommended!






2 thoughts on “Houseboating on Ashtamudi Lake, Kerala backwaters

  1. As usual your photographs are gorgeous, sunny and detailed. I’ve already been to India but I haven’t yet been to Kerala. ‘Would love to one of these days lol!
    p.s. I like the blue peacocks and dragons and of course, the blue boygod – Krishna!

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